Monday, 26 March 2018

Back to the wall

This blog is now available as an mp3 podcast through the link: www.ferngladefarm.com.au

Some people don't enjoy public speaking. They get anxious, flustered, and can even feel vulnerable. I on the other hand, quite enjoy public speaking. When I was a teenager I lost any fear of public speaking, merely because as the captain of the cross country running team I had to get up in front of the entire school assembly and read out the weeks results. Nothing sharpens and hones a knife better than your high school peers critiquing any minor misstep in a presentation.

Fortunately I was not one to care for their opinions, but in between all of the braying of my peers there were one or two gems of wisdom wrapped up in their general teenage unpleasantness. So, in short order I became much better and more confident at public speaking.

On Saturday for the first time in many years, I felt differently about public speaking. An edge of nervousness had crept into my quiet confidence. That day, I lead a discussion with the Green Wizards group about the twin topics of: Money and Property. Those two topics stoked my disquiet because they are never far from the public discourse in Australia. It is really hard to read a newspaper and not stumble across an article upon either of those topics.

Not all cultures are as interested in those two topics as we appear to be. In fact over the past year, I read a book written by an anthropologist who lived with a remote Aboriginal community in the north. The anthropologist recounted a quote from an Aboriginal elder who astutely remarked that: "money was the white fella's dreaming".

Anyway, I had a discussion to lead, so I had to say something remotely intelligible on the subject! With that in mind, I contemplated and meditated upon the subjects, and generally wracked my brains for any coherent thoughts. In a blinding flash of insight, well, in a brainstorming discussion with the editor, I realised that it might be important to discuss that, perhaps the concept of money and the realities of money have diverged a bit over the past two decades.

A short story might help to explain the divergence, and so I shared the following story with the group:
Victorian era terrace houses on the outskirts of Melbourne
The above photo shows a quiet street on the very outskirts of the Central Business District of the city of Melbourne. The street is lined with charming tiny Victorian era housing. Those terrace houses were constructed way back in the day to house families and people who worked in the heavy industries surrounding the train lines leading into Melbourne.

One evening in the mid 1990's, I took a mate of mine to visit those terrace houses. The row of three or maybe it was four houses, had all come up for sale at the same time. The prices varied from about $41,000 to about $45,000 (from memory). At the time, my annual salary for performing the interesting job of debt collection, was about $26,000. My mate was working in sales and annually he earned more than the price of the house.

My mate did not purchase any of those houses.

For the purposes of the Saturday discussion I did a quick internet search to see whether there were any recent sales quotes for one of these properties. Sure enough I found a current 'estimated value range' (a fancy way to describe a quote) on a real estate website for one of the terrace houses. The amount returned was a range between $1,100,000 to $1,374,999.

If I picked the higher house price from back in the mid 1990's ($45,000) and the lower quote from today ($1,100,000), well that is an increase expressed in percentage terms of 2,444% in just over twenty years. That's an epic increase! My pay certainly hasn't increased 2,444% in just over twenty years!

Inflation is understood to be a general increase in prices and a consequent fall in the purchasing value of money. It is a simple enough concept. But perhaps my grasp of economic theory is not as good as it could be, because I am dumbfounded when serious economic pundits claim that inflation in Australia is running somewhere between 1% and 3% annually, and has done so for many years. My experience over those years leads me to believe that inflation is doing otherwise.

Economic indicators aside, I asked if any of the people present at the discussion could afford to spend $1.1m on that terrace house? Silence reigned over the meeting.

The long dead Chinese military genius, Sun Tzu, wrote a most excellent book on strategy (The Art of War). In the book he suggested that: 'When you surround an army, leave an outlet free. Do not press a desperate foe too hard'. Wise words, as I feel that there are many, often younger people, who feel that the dream of home ownership has moved beyond their grasp. They appear to me to have been backed into a corner.

A few weeks ago, I heard the strong voice of Chrissie Amphlett on the radio singing about be being backed into a corner. Chrissie was the lead singer of the legendary Australian band, 'The Divinyls' and is arguably one of the great female leads that Australia has produced.

"We are living in desperate times
These are desperate times my dear
There's no way out of here
There's no way out my dear


I've been holding back all my tears
Just so the pressure don't show
Like a time bomb ticking away
I might blow up some day

Don't push me, don't shove
You better watch what you do"

At the meeting, someone asked the searching question as to whether I was cherry picking one choice example to exaggerate my point. It is a fair question, and fortunately I had a second example to hand. However, I feel that it was a moot point because: One in three Melbourne suburbs have $1m median house price, REIV says. Clearly $1m is unable to purchase what it used to.

The other side of the money and property story is that way back in the mid 1990's my mates annual salary relative to the price of the house was about the same. As a comparison, back in those days I required something less than two years of my annual salary relative to the price of that terrace house. Nowadays, given all those median house prices of over $1m, it is probably unlikely that an individual could be expected to be paid an annual salary of say $0.5m (unless they are a CEO), let alone a family unit of two people working full time. And I gave them the further bad news, that if prices continue to increase faster than salaries, then they are poorer with every price increase. Bam!

"You've got the upper hand
Well I've got nothing to lose
When I'm trapped in a corner like this
I might light a fuse
There's no way out of here
There's no way out my dear

Don't push me, don't shove
You better watch what you do"

And that was just the beginning of the talk! We went on to discuss related matters such as: Economic policies and their consequences; Values; Narratives; and Alternative options.

At one point during the discussion, I looked around the room and realised that because of the age distribution of the attendees, nobody else in the room had been even remotely affected by the recession in the early 1990's. And so my stories of scrambling to keep a roof over my head, food on the table, and taking any job on offer, sounded a bit like a fairy tale from another planet. Despite the hard times, I appreciated the lessons learned way back then because nothing sharpens and hones a knife better than the rough and tumble of experience.

I would have enjoyed concluding the discussion with a flourish whilst loudly proclaiming "Shazam!" and then all of the problems discussed would be resolved. However, the discussion was only ever a beginning, and not an end point. To effect any real change requires long term work to convince people who are benefiting from the current economic policies, that it is no longer in their interests to do so.

Just before I jumped onto the train to head into Melbourne that day, the sky grew very dark as a heavy storm approached the mountain range:
Storm clouds approach from across the valley
The storm clouds moved threateningly closer
It soon became so dark that you wouldn't believe that the above photo was taken during mid morning!
The forecasts earlier in the week had been pretty clear that the storm would hit the mountain range on Saturday. With the forecast in mind, I spent a couple of hours earlier in the week using the crusty old vacuum to clean out the accumulated organic matter in the shed gutters. I collected quite a lot of 'stuff' which was dumped into one of the garden beds:
Organic matter removed from various shed roofs and guttering was dumped into this garden bed
With cooler weather fast approaching, I climbed up onto the house roof and cleaned out the wood heater flue. I have a long handled brush which fits the diameter of the flue and is used to scrape clean any gunk (the technical word for creosote) which had collected inside the flue during the previous year. The next photo is a series of four frames which shows the chimney brush in action:
A series of photos showing the chimney brush in action as it is used to clean the wood heater flue
Over the past year we have been burning very dry (less than 14% moisture content) and seasoned/aged (cut more than two years previously) hardwood. And the difference is remarkable because the flue was amazingly clean and free of creosote.
An upside down photo of the flue cowling (the top hat!) showing very little creosote build up
When the brush is pushed down and pulled back up the flue, any creosote which falls, collects inside the combustion chamber of the wood heater. The next photo shows the inside of the combustion chamber and the very dark black/brown sooty substance is the gunk that fell out of the flue. Compared to previous years, this was a very small quantity.
The black sooty product sitting on top of the grey ashes is the creosote removed from the chimney flue
Interestingly, the very thick (10mm or 0.4 inch) steel baffle plate inside the wood heater is displaying very little damage. The baffle plate is a sacrificial part of the wood heater which is replaceable and it is used to prevent permanent damage to the top of the wood heater.
The very thick (10mm or 0.4 inch) steel baffle plate inside the wood heater is displaying very little damage
The weather has been very changeable this week! One sunny afternoon, we went a-rock-hunting! Rock on! Rock and Roll! Rocks are very useful items and we separate them into various types
Small rocks are used as fill in the concrete stairs and/or the rock gabion cages
Larger rocks are used for lining garden beds and paths
Boulders are both special and rare and they are used for edging steep garden beds
The preserving of the tomato harvest has now been completed! We have just completed the final passata bottles (tomato pasta sauce). The tomatoes will continue to ripen on the dying vines from now until about late April / early May, and those tomatoes will be enjoyed for fresh eating and some will be used to produce tomato wine - which is a wine used for cooking. Tomato wine looks and tastes a lot like a very smooth white wine.
A years supply of passata - Done!
Oh! I better get a wriggle on! Here is an update of the autumn produce, which is all very tasty:
The tomato vines are dying back now that it is cooler, but the fruit continues to ripen
This has been our most successful year with eggplant
The long capsicums (peppers) are starting to show red colouring, although we have been eating them green
Jalapenos. Ok. I admit it, I'm frankly scared! They are as yet unpicked
Round capsicum (peppers) are beginning to put on some size
Canteloupe and water melon. Yum!
A huge pumpkin and a water melon. I'm unsure when to harvest either of them
How good are Chilean guavas?
Flower update:
I took the camera with me when I was up on the roof cleaning the wood heater flue
And here is another shot from the roof
We moved the nasturtiums to a smaller raised garden bed and they've gone feral

Our own private leaf change! L-R Manchurian pear; Tulip tree; and Sugar Maple
Who can resist a bush rose?

This geranium is one of the prettiest geranium flowers

The final words for this week should go to Chrissie Amphlett:

"I've got nothing to lose
I might light a fuse
I've got nothing to lose
I might light a fuse
Yeah, yeah...
Look it out
Don't come any closer"

The temperature outside now at about 7.30pm is 10’C (50’F). So far this year there has been 157.4mm (6.2 inches) which is higher than last week's total of 112.2mm (4.4 inches).

68 comments:

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Margaret,

Thanks! Hehe! And it ended up being a considerable dump of rain too. Hope you like the series of photos as the storm rolls ever closer. How does that work out anyway with the rain? Not much for eight weeks and then, Bam! Almost two inches of rain. Not much damage here on the farm, but the local dirt roads seem to be a bit worse for wear.

Yeah, it is best to wait until the soil has some heat in it. I’m guilty of planting out too early in some springs. Hey, we are almost enjoying the exact same weather!

I really appreciate that, and I have the audio file here now and will have to have a listen over the next few days, make a few minor edits, and then I'll put the file up for download.

Hope the traditional post court lunch session was more pleasant than the legal proceedings? It is nice that you have the same people as they will perhaps need less introduction to the formalities, and there is an ever so slight relationship with all of the different people too, and that means something.

I do exactly the same, and refer to maps on either the internet before I leave or on the printed map book in the car. In fact I try to memorise the route that I am taking so that I'm not distracted whilst driving. I prefer podcasts or music to looking at a GPS (which I can't do as I don't have one). It is a bit sad, but years ago, every year a new edition of the printed map book would be released and I don't actually know whether they still publish that book. Anyway, the thick tree canopy puts an end to the usefulness of a GPS system. A self driving car here would be useless.

I read that a Chinese space station is going to fall out of the sky over the next few days... I still recall when Skylab landed over Western Australia and have even visited the museum where there are great chunks of the space station. How irreverent is this? The local council sent NASA a parking infringement fine for Skylab!

Cheers

Chris

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Margaret,

Thanks for the book reference and history and I'll check into it tonight!

Cheers

Chris

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Inge,

Ah well, everything second hand has a history to it. Anyway, how much grit can there possibly be inside the contraption? How did the linen handle the grit? I can guess that the towels would be OK? Beach towels tend to end up with grit in them, and from there it gets into the insides of the washing machine. I approve of your optimism, and yeah, there can only be so much grit inside the machine. Anyway, stainless steel is an amazing material and it will cope with the grit well enough. The trick I reckon is listening to the spin cycle - as long as you don't overload the machine - and that should give you a good indication as to the mechanical condition of the machine. Interestingly, I found that even though we have an 8.5kg washing machine, different cycles are rated to much lower weight loads - sometimes to about half of that rated load amount. This was new information to us, and is possibly how we burnt out the motor on the old machine. We learn all of the time, and sometimes the learning process is not very convenient.

I'd be content with the machine too. The old timers used to quip: "Don't look a gift horse in the mouth". An examination of horse teeth is of course one way to confirm the health of a horse. Mind you, I'm not excited about horses, and now that I am aware that they need at least 3 acres of good pasture per horse, I'm even less excited by them. I don't see anybody stocking horses at that rate, and it is probably not a bad idea to do that overstocking.

Lewis tends to agree with your assessment of the figurines. To my eyes the figurines look like flights of fancy, concocted from a sensitive soul who knew nothing of the harshness of actuality. The creator held dear to her ideals when the winds of opinion pushed against them. The original creator paid a high price indeed for her whimsy.

Cheers

Chris

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Lewis,

Mate, I feel the same way about change, but at the same time I also feel that change is an inevitability. That is complex, which is my more or less standard answer for subjects being beyond any less than a two thousand word reply! Oh, I just dodged the heavier import of your observation... ;-)! OK, well, just imagine that you are not you, but you are me for a brief moment. Now my mum was a single mum, and so we moved around a lot due to housing complexities which were no joke at all for a single mum in the 1970's. There was a lot of moral judgement and moral barriers involved. But then as an adult I likewise also moved around a lot. Eventually, I tired of moving around a lot and sought some sort of shelter or permanency. And here I am up here in the forest after having lived in an unconscionable number of different abodes. It is well into the high teens for the number of abodes. Fortunately I am very adaptable as a result, but is this a good thing? From my readings of groups and civilisations that have existed for a longer time frame than ours looks set too, one factor stands out - they move around within a roughly defined territory and not much beyond that. That makes sense when you think about it. People in our society move around way toooo much and think nothing of it.

I feel the loss too. When I was young and dumb, I used to burn bridges whenever I felt the loss approaching me. That saved me longer term hurt, and perhaps I was scared of facing the loss. But that was also a reflection of who I was at the time because eventually I understood that loss is as much a part of the experience of living as is the warmth of boon companions. It is hard to explain, but entropy eats everything around us, and I see no way out of that maze. A dull sort of acceptance has crept into my awareness. That never eases the pain of loss, but it sort of helps understand why pain is visiting me. I dunno, everyone is different on that front. The ones I feel for are the people who hang onto their pride, and never acknowledge the loss, or allow themselves to back away from their high horse, and I have a few mates like that.

You hit upon a sore topic. The person that I have known for the longest span of years moved to Western Australia a few years ago. He is now approaching his 50th birthday and sent an invitation to attend it. However the event is held almost four hours by plane, or over five days of driving away. I realise that this is a test of friendship, and mate, from everything I've ever seen ultimatums rarely play out well. I'm not that old yet, but I plan to do absolutely nothing for that birthday, and that is exactly as I want it! Other people want to put on a good song and dance, and that is all well and good for them.

What a dark turn we've taken this evening! Hope you enjoyed the photos of the ever closer approaching storm? We are soon to begin works to adapt the farm to deal with such heavy storms because we can no longer ignore their increasing regularity. And for such storms to be visiting us in autumn is not a good long term sign of the stability of the climate. We can adapt though.

cont...

Fernglade Farm said...

Hey, the English call that room a 'mud room' too. I hate mud and do everything I can to banish its existence! It is rare to see mud anywhere around these parts anyway because a lot of the vegetation is evergreen as is most of the forest. Have you ever travelled or lived in the South? To me, culturally the area seems very distinct from northern US culture, and mate, the north west is different again from the north east, just from what I've observed of the stories in various television series that I've seen over the years.

I like the idea of the porch and the gentle art of the promenade, and I was aware of that function. It is interesting that you mention 'the stoop' in the front of apartment buildings, but whenever I have seen 'stoops' in television, those steps are generally devoid of people and the scene is shown in order to provide social validation for the character in the story.

Thanks for mentioning that about the drive-by-mansplaining and correctional-trolling effort. Yeah I took a peek at that effort, and I can understand how they became confused, but they never took the time to engage with you using dialogue, and so their correction looks more like point scoring as a consequence. Such things require a relationship, which a lot of people forget about. And anyway we'll never know which motivation it was? The internet is a complex place for social dialogue and there are times I'd like to get my hands on some folks, as they would never dare talk that way to my face. But then there are the positive sides to the technology and I get to have a long and detailed ongoing dialogue with the lovely people here - including yourself! :-)!

I'd say something un-family friendly which rhymes a lot with "Truck 'em", but then that would mean breaking my own rules, and before you know it everyone would be dropping 'F-bombs' all over the place. And then wherever would decorum go?

Cheers

Chris

orchidwallis said...

Hello Chris

Wonderful storm clouds.

I was sitting here in contented mood when the phone rang, now I am bristling with irritation. The caller was from the electricity board trying to get us to have a smart meter. They keep ringing us. I finally suggested that he get himself a more ethical job. I suspect that he doesn't know the meaning of the word ethical.

The washing machine has just done a second wash, less grit and the drum turns more quietly. I didn't get the machine for nothing, but the amount was reasonable.

Son had a phone call from one of the Island manor houses. His father dog Flynn had turned up there. This dog roams for miles and has great social skills. He must have swum across a creek. Son enjoyed seeing the manor house and said that clearly Flynn is not happy with his humble abode. The other dogs had gone too but they returned home. Flynn doesn't, he sits outside the front door of other properties until invited in.

I have never heard of a 'mud room' so am not sure that it is used in the UK.

Inge

SLClaire said...

Hi Chris,

When I saw the prices for the Victorian terrace houses, I let out the F-bomb. I could see half or so of that if they were in, say, a fancy part of San Francisco. Not that it would be affordable for me, but I know prices run that way there. Here in StL, maybe a quarter of that if they were in the oldest, most restored, most desirable parts of town, like Soulard or Lafayette Square. But over $1M? No way can I wrap my mind around that price for that sort of house. In StL that would buy you a McMansion in the newest suburbs or a multistory Victorian in a place like Webster Groves which was built for railroad executives in the late 1800s.

Attached houses are fairly common in the central areas of older cities on the US East Coast. There are a very few of them in StL, mostly in the aforementioned Soulard which is one of the oldest parts of the city. Here they are called row houses and are generally narrow and 2 stories in height, with the common areas on the ground floor and the bedrooms above.

We are just beginning a two day long rain event which is predicted to drop 2-3" (50-75mm) of rain on us. That will finally saturate the soil. I won't be doing any outdoor work till it's over. Spring is proceeding more slowly than usual. Even my apricot trees haven't bloomed yet, which means there is a decent chance of getting fruit from them this year. Fingers crossed!

Claire

SLClaire said...

@ Pam: thanks for telling me about your method of starting pepper seeds! I will try it along with planting seeds in another, smaller flat and doing a better job of keeping it covered. No relief in sight from the colder than normal conditions, and we'll be lucky if we see a bit of sun next Friday and Saturday. I've not had such poor conditions for raising seedlings in March before.

Claire

thecrowandsheep said...

Hi Chris,

Very interesting green wizards meeting.

Professor Michael Hudson tells us that properties are worth whatever the banks are willing to lend. If this is true, the next time someone tells you their McMansion is worth $1 million, you could say, "no, your fine abode is worth x, where x is the size of the loan some schmuck in a suit in a bank is willing to give some schmoe without a suit, job or assets to purchase your property."

Prof Hudson's proposal is to push the tax burden onto the financial class (land value tax) since it will be gobbled up by debt repayments anyway and then lower the income tax comensurately to make labor more competitive. More details here: http://www.levyinstitute.org/pubs/wp_627.pdf

Rising house prices only makes it more difficult for those entering the property market, that is, onto the next generation. Do it for the kids!

I note anecdotally that many with home loans must work precisely for the rest of their pre-retirement life to pay off that loan. The $1 million question Chris: is that a coincidence?

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Brave soul! Discussing money and property is right up there with death and taxes :-). One fleeting thought I had about the properties you showed was that they are probably leveraged, through loans, to the hilt. One little bump in the road of life and you're out in the street. But, it kind of put me in mind of that book I read last year on the fellow who discharged his student loans through great sacrifice. Living in his van, etc.. I think it's a case of wanting something more than anything else in the world, and being able to sacrifice a great deal to get it. Social standing, companionship, realistic choices about the where. So. Did the meeting conclude with the mass slashing of wrists? :-).

Gas is up, here, to $3.25 per gallon. That's about a 30 cent jump in a month and a half. Inflation figures are so bogus. Fairy tales told by government and business. To suit their own agendas. Here, housing and health care costs (I think) are not figured into the "cost of living" estimates. They think we, the great unwashed, don't notice? Not doing themselves any favors. And, they wonder why "faith" in business and government is tumbling and why people buy into the "fake news" meme, so easily.

Those dark storm clouds are really something. We get that, here, from time to time. It's such a cheap thrill. The sky gets all dark an ominous. Like something out of a horror movie. It was a dark and gloomy ... day.

The series of photos on your chimney cleaning? Not the brush in action, but more, Chris in action. :-). But I know the joy of a pretty clean chimney. A bit of salt and dry wood and the last chimney I cleaned was clean as a whistle. And, not much mess! The chimney sweeps life is a hard one. Just read Dickens :-).

Your rocks look like the Standard Factory Issued granite. Maybe.

The tomatoes, preserved tomatoes and eggplant are beautiful. When to harvest? Google is your friend. I don't think I've ever asked, but what's your garden book selection like? Do you have garden books? I have quit a few but just like cooking (my first "go to" is Betty Crocker or Joy of Cooking) the first thing I pick up is the Sunset Western Garden Book. We're lucky. Sunset magazine has published an encyclopedic garden guide for decades. Frequently updated. There's also a smaller "Gardener's Answer Book." They also publish smaller books on specific topics. They even have one for organic gardening. Cont.

LewisLucanBooks said...

Cont. The 'birds eye view" of your spread looks like a Garden of Earthly Delights. The vistas. The surrounding deep, dark woods. Ever thought about scattering Nasturtium seeds around your orchard? I wonder if they would naturalize?

Well, sure, change is inevitable ... but I don't have to like it :-). But I agree with all you said. Birthdays? Meh. I'm pretty rabidly intent of keeping my birthday, to myself. And, am also surprised that people push so hard to discover the exact date. "Toward the end of July" does not satisfy the birthday crowd. Oh, I do little personal things, for me. Provides a good excuse, to sluff off a day and eat things I shouldn't. To me, my AA birthday is much more important. But, it's pretty low key. I exchange my last years coin, for this years coin (I probably haven't explained the coins) and my mate Scott will take me out to lunch. Mexican or Chinese? The burning question of the day. Right up there with "what is the meaning of life?"

I've never visited the South. There's a couple of places I'd like to visit, but at this late date ... I've certainly read a lot about it and seen enough films. Whole different world.

Well, of course reminding myself that I don't have to respond to everything I see on the net, is good, I think. But I'm thankful for being able to do a little vent, here. You know exactly what I'm talking about. No one in my world outside the internet could relate. And yes, decorum must be maintained :-).

A couple a' three things I think I'll save for tomorrow. I've gassed on, enough. The potluck was good and when we were all fine and goodly stuffed, the Seventh Day Adventists showed up with another round. The assistant Warden belongs to that church. They are vegetarian by ideology. So, when they have a 'do", they bring the leftovers, to us. It's almost a bad pun, but we were double stuffed potatoes.

I watched "Lucky", last night. Harry Dean Stanton's last film. And, I watched "Manifesto". Cate Blanchett in a practically one woman performance. Thoughts on all that, tomorrow. Lew

LewisLucanBooks said...

@ Margaret - I took a look at E-Bay and got some of the details, wrong.

Search "All Categories" for "Hummel figures." There will be 29,000+. :-).

On the left hand side (scroll down) is a section called "Show Only." Click the box marked "Sold Listings." Then you get the actual prices paid for them. Lew

Damo said...

Hi Chris,

I like the photos you took from the roof. It gives me a real appreciation for the density and layout of your front garden! The colours have turned here over the past two weeks. Most trees now have now changed and the view from our living room is very pretty with a mix of yellows, oranges, reds and the odd green.

I also note the birds seem to be particularly energetic with large roving bands of sparrows and silveryes rampaging through our yard several times a day (Mrs Damo refers to them as 'herds' - a much better descriptor of what is happening than flock!). A last feast before the cold sets in?

Your talk sounds interesting. What sort of comments and feedback did you get? Is the average greenwizard already a homeowner?

As alluded by my rant from a few weeks back, I have more or less given up on the idea of land ownership. There is a small glimmer of hope inside me, but I am not running my life in anticipation of taking on a large mortgage. This will have some serious implications around retirement, but it also opens a lot of possibilities and flexibility in life now. Take the good with the bad I guess!

Cheers,
Damo

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Inge,

Nature is very beautiful and a storm rolling in fast is really quite the spectacle.

Yes, I have heard of those smart meters. The name of the device itself is very telling. My gut feeling is that anytime someone who is trying to push product and telling you that you’re smart, well, let’s just say that you should run in any other direction! :-)! My understanding of smart meters is that they allow greater control over the power entering into your home, in that it can be switched on and off remotely and the meter is also able to be read remotely. You don't get them when you are not connected to the electricity grid.

That all sounds good, and if the machine is quiet when it spins then that is a good sign about the guts of the machine. The spin process is the hardest process that the machine does, and then I reckon the second hardest aspect is not leaking water.

I had mechanical troubles here today as it looks as if the clutch mechanism on the little dirt mouse Suzuki is in the process of failing. The first hint of failure was when the editor and I were in Melbourne this morning. I had to wait out the peak hour traffic this evening so that I didn't have to use the clutch as much getting home. Made it back here safely albeit with some unusual sounds coming from the thrust bearing. That’s life and the clutch is a consumable item which has frankly lasted a decade.

Flynn appears to be taking after his namesake. The actor Errol Flynn, from the island state of Tasmania. That bloke lead an adventurous life.

Cheers

Chris

margfh said...

@Lew

Thanks for the Hummel info. I'll check it out.

Margaret

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Claire,

Yup, and I'll have to listen to the audio of the meeting before I put it up on the web, but I feel that you weren't the only one letting out an F-bomb about that topic. What are you meant to do when one in three suburbs has a median house price over one million dollars? That mess is a small part of the reason I live in this remote spot as I want no part of that business. It makes absolutely no sense at all to me, and you have to understand that the original intention of that terrace house was as a working mans or working families cottage. It was not ever intended to be high end housing.

Attached houses are still really common right through the inner suburbs of Melbourne. They're quite charming, but sharing the party walls - and they're often four bricks thick from what I've experienced - means a more temperate house because the internal walls are never exposed to the external temperatures or sun and they have enormous thermal mass. Yeah, they're generally narrow here too at about 5m / 16.5ft wide, but I have seen some that are less than that.

The news of your spring rain is excellent news. Hope you can avoid a drought for the summer, and you are off to a very good start in that regard. Fingers crossed for the apricots! They really are one of the tastiest stone fruits around and preserve the best of the bunch, but the blossoms are always a bit chancy with a late frost. Slow spring seasons can make for complex decisions with the planting.

Cheers

Chris

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi crowandsheep,

Yup, it was an interesting meeting and it tired me out for sure. There were many things that I wanted to discuss that I couldn't, but I went as far as I dared.

It is interesting that you mention that, but we are deep into a Royal Commission into the banking sector at the moment down here. The terms of reference for the Royal Commission are perhaps not as free wheeling as they probably should be, and probably more than the banks would like, but I feel that it is a case of better this than nothing.

Well, speaking about predatory lending practices, I once recall a credit card provider apparently signing up intellectually disabled people for credit cards. The credit card was then rapidly maxed out, and repayment was a difficult proposition. Many of those contracts were overturned by the Financial Ombudsman. They were certainly unconscionable.

No, it most certainly does not appear to be a coincidence! You know, most lenders don't want their funds returned. When it is easy to print money, the last thing you want is piles of money. What they want is a flow of funds over a long period of time, otherwise there is no opportunity to sell off the debt as a bundled bond to unsuspecting third parties, who are also looking for a yield. So many people are looking for unearned wealth.

Absolutely. That is the angle I would take. Appeal to self interest by pointing out that their kids are suffering and locked out of the market.

Cheers

Chris

margfh said...

Hi Chris,

Well I am flabbergasted by your housing example. You and your friend would certainly have made a killing if you had purchased one of those homes. It seems like in the big cities and and closely surrounding suburbs prices have been skyrocketing as well as rents. If someone just starting out wanted to purchase a home they would have to come out to one of the exurbs like where we live and that's just what they're doing. All the smaller homes around here are selling quite fast. Of course we have few jobs out this way so when fuel prices eventually rise ... Will you be continuing this discussion?

I'm so glad you finally got the much needed rain. The storm clouds look pretty ominous. Like Damo, I appreciated your photos from the roof. Looks like all your beds are pretty compact so taking care of them can be done in an efficient manner.

We're usually surprised at how little creosote build up there is in the chimney though I wonder if it'll be more after this year as some of the wood we've burnt is softer than usual.

It's said that some people fear public speaking more than death. One of my sisters has to do a talk at the hospital where she works each year and she absolutely dreads it though over the years has gotten somewhat better. One year she thought she might be pregnant (and really didn't want to be) but she said "at least I won't have to give that talk".

I have a great set of very detailed maps of northern Illinois and all of Wisconsin but they are very old. I also wonder if they are even printing them anymore. My sister and I took a couple of road trips just meandering all of the country roads - what fun.

Margaret

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Lewis,

Hehe! I realise that but felt more nervous than brave! Is stoic the correct description? There were things I wanted to discuss that I could barely touch upon, and well, it was a discussion after all and not an action group. :-)! The household indebtedness problem down here is expressing itself in all sorts of unusual circumstances. I may have mentioned that a wealthy family involved in shopping malls has apparently sold off their empire to some European investors. I’m told bonds are cheap there, but I don’t know what that means! I have also read that apparently the shopping malls are starting to feel the pinch as consumers aren't spending as much as they once did. Debt is a tool that is subject to diminishing returns, and that is as true of the very largest of debts, all the way to the very smallest.

Well, exactly. In a story I wrote a while back I mentioned that when we purchased our first house, it was on the wrong side of the tracks and family and friends refused to visit. I did not realise the social consequences of such a choice, but by the time it was done, it was done. All one can do after such a debacle is to make the best of the situation. Mind you, the wrong side of the tracks is now outside their budget and people drool after it. Not so back then. And I was focused enough that I paid my dues and took myself out of that game.

I was a bit tired at the end of the meeting and completely failed to gauge how other people took it all. Dunno really, I would like to know, but the opportunity sailed by.

Ouch, that is quite a bit for gas for your part of the world. A lot of that fracked oil that people bang on about, can't be refined in your refineries as it is too light for those facilities, thus it gets exported. I reckon we pay around about $5.30 for a gallon of petrol.

Fairy tales is the right way to describe that funny business and statistics get used to tell a story. Of course, such a claim could be made about this weeks story too, except that it is easy to verify. It is funny in a sad sort of way, but we have out of control house prices and reasonably affordable health care. You have the opposite with cheaper housing, but out of control health care costs. Printing money has always lead to hyper inflation. It would be nicer if we took a vote on these untested economic stratagems, because I reckon we're adult enough as a population to do so. I recall a federal election that was run and won on introducing a new tax. It was close, but it got over the line. And the idea had to be sold to the population.

That is funny about the storm! Where I have I heard that quote before? Hehe! I love a good storm. You know it is cooler here over the past day or so, and yesterday I had to run the wood heater. At least the hot water which is heated from either solar or wood, became toasty hot again!

The clutch mechanism in the little dirt mouse Suzuki began playing up this morning in Melbourne. The editor and I car pooled in, and I just hoped that we made it home again, so we waited out any traffic by taking ourselves off for a coffee and cake, and then a burger and chips. Oh, the burger was good as it had mustard and pickles with bacon. Totally yummo! Anyway, the car made it back home again, albeit with strange noises and a shuddering action at low speed, and is booked into the local mechanics next week. I once replaced a clutch in a car myself and it was an involved job for the home mechanic, but not the end of the world.

No worries about the series of photos. It would have been nice to blow them up a bit, but time was running short and stories about money and property are really hard to write whilst being entertaining too. I may fix that photo over the next few days. Oh yeah too, how many chimney sweeps lived to see their 19th birthday? Not many from what I can gather. They used to get the kids to climb up and into the chimney...

cont...

Fernglade Farm said...

The boulder was heavy as, and the best I could do was roll it there and not lose it down the hill whilst squashing fruit trees, dogs, and/or wildlife. It may well be granite, and some other stuff. It sure is heavy.

Thanks for the Google suggestion and I will look into that. We've been eating the eggplant and capsicum for a while now, but the melons and pumpkin are much harder to tell.

That is a good question and I have a huge collection of gardening books, but some of the authors don't speak to me as well as others and that is really a difficult thing to discover in advance. Have you ever read any Wendell Berry? Margaret mentioned him the other day.

Oh yeah! Hey, don't lead me into temptation because I could replicate that garden all the way down to the bottom of the hill. Occasionally I am tempted to do so. The woods here are having a remarkable year and the canopy is looking really good. Around here the soils are getting richer and I even noticed the other day that what had been a somewhat dead-ish sort of tree is producing epicormic growth which is amazing to see. The tree branches now sport furry arms! I hope they don't turn into Ents, they may be very grumpy with me and squash me un-hastily! :-)!

The nasturtiums are gaining ground all over the property. And best of all, they are entirely edible.

No, you haven't explained the coins - and there is a story there for sure. How did you begin such a tradition? I get that about the AA birthday too, because a sort of new life began at that point in time for you and you engaged with the world entirely differently. Hope that doesn't sound too twee, but that is my understanding of the situation. You know I really feel that it is the small things in life, and I too enjoy a quiet day for myself whenever I have a birthday but a surprise party would be the very worst imaginable birthday un-treat. Horrendous. Even thinking about it gives me a headache!

You know, a bar tender told me last week that the 'meaning of life' is 42. And he said that with a completely straight face too. The cheeky scamp!

Your country has so many different cultures, it is really an amazing melting pot of humanity. No chance I'll get to visit the south anytime soon either.

No worries at all. Vent away! Pedants are most unwelcome here, and I sort of detected an air of the pedant in action with that reply comment. Well, we here are of the most excellent discernment and taste! :-)! It took me a while to understand how people communicated over the web (outside of the regular commenters here) and I was quite horrified when I first encountered it. The problem I faced was that reasonable dialogue was rapidly killed off by all sorts of social games that don't occur in the real world.

Poor little Scritchy just came back inside the house. It is quite late now, and she really wanted to munch on her beef bone outside by herself for a quiet hour. She is alright that dog.

Good for them. Ideology is all god (sic) and fine, but so is a juicy hamburger with mustard and pickles even when one is a vegetarian otherwise!

Thanks for the film references too. Interesting!

Cheers

Chris

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Damo,

Thanks for the comment. Sorry mate, but car clutch troubles meant that I got home really late tonight. The drive back up hill from Melbourne was tense... I don't usually respond much to comments on a Wednesday evening, but I promise to reply to yours.

Cheers

Chris

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Cosmic. You mentioned Errol Flynn to Inge, and I've got a newish film on him on order at the library. Fictionalized account of part of his life? "In Search of Robin Hood?"

Is that an Imperial gallon? :-). Maybe the Dirt Rat wants a little break? I was careful to get a manual shift when I bought my truck. I understand that they're easier to replace ... and, cheaper. It really didn't figure in, but I've heard that many young thieves don't know how to drive a manual shift. :-). Not much of a worry at this point. My little truck is beyond the age or interest of car thieves. LOL. Sometimes it pays to be a bit down-market.

Million dollar houses are beyond my understanding. In my mind, those are lavish mansions with "staff." I think I mentioned that in The Home's neighborhood, there are three houses for sale, just down the street. Now, it's a "nice" neighborhood, pretty much. The houses are what I'd call small cottages ... probably also originally built for working class folk. Presently, they are what I would call "manicured." Totally rehabed. They are all north of $200,000. Which boggles my mind.

Poor little chimney sweeps. Back in Victorian times, they were the smallest children on offer, and sent up the chimney as nature made them. No clothes to snag. I read some time ago that a doctor noticed that some of the older sweeps were developing strange and rare cancers in their ... er, nether regions. It was the constant exposure to the carcinogenic soot being ground into their tender bits. There were investigations, media hue and cry, royal commissions. And out of it all came some of the first child labor laws. Cont.

LewisLucanBooks said...

Darn. Lost the next bit. The smoggy brown screen of death descended and .... poof! I'll get back to it later. :-(. Lew

LewisLucanBooks said...

Cont. Give this another whirl ... AA coins. Coins (also called chips) are given for 24 hours, one month, three, six and nine months. Those are usually aluminum or plastic. Then, its year by year. Those are brass. Though, I've heard of gold washed ones for big milestones. Most meetings have a birthday meeting, the last meeting of the month. If anyone's had a birthday, it's celebrated. Usually, the birthday person(s) are asked "How did you do it?" Sometimes there's cake and ice cream! :-). If you have a home group, (I don't, at present) you get a coin. I usually just buy mine, from The Club. Some people hold onto their old coins. Some recycle. I recycle.

The brass coins are about 1 1/4". There are several versions. Some have the Serenity Prayer on one side ... or, maybe pictures of our founders. The front can vary, but always has a Roman numeral, for number of years. Usually, there's a triangle which symbolizes Unity, Recovery and Service. I carry mine in my pocket, all the time. I feel a little naked without it. :-). A good luck piece? A fetish? Whatever. Number of years is important ... but not important. The sound of one hand clapping? :-). General consensus is that the most important person in the room, is the one with the least amount of time. We are also reminded that there's plenty of people, with less time, that work a better program than we do. Deflation of the ego. Keeps us humble.

Films. "Lucky" stars Harry Dean Stanton (hereafter known as HDS). It was written and produced by two guys that have known him for a couple of decades. It's a love letter, a valentine to HDS. They pretty much built the story around HDS's mannerisms and takes on life. Then they stacked the supporting cast with old friends of his, to lure him out of retirement. It was his last film, before he died. It's about an old guy who lives in a small desert town and comes to perceive his own mortality. I liked it and think it's worth a look.

"Manifesto" was pretty much a one woman film with Cate Blanchett. There are many other people in the film, but their mostly background. Almost props. The only dialogue is one manifesto, or another. Art, architecture, film and dance. There are twelve sequences where Blanchett plays different characters. Everything from a homeless man(!) to a society woman. Some of the manifestos are not family friendly. But then, they were meant to shock. The shock of the new? After awhile, you kind of noticed reoccurring themes. Nothing is new, everything is borrowed. The past is not important. The present is not important. The future is not important. Professionalism and craftsmanship is inhibiting and false. Academia is inhibiting and false. Etc. Etc..

Visually, the film is beautiful. Lots of brutalist modern architecture and industrial and high tech spaces. Not my favorite kind of buildings, but filmed in such a way that they were quit striking. So. Is it worth watching? Hmmm. That's a tough one. I didn't fast forward, even once. it's kind of mesmerising. Would I watch it again? Probably not. Lew

Coco said...

Congrats on your talk. Inflation is a complicated issue. I don´t know if you´re familiar with The Automatic Earth, but they bang on about it not just being an issue of rising prices, but the oversupply of money, and more importantly credit. It´s a glimpse behind the mis-informational curtain, and they often cite articles about the dire situation in real estate bubbles around the world, Australia included. Depressing and a lot of it´s over my head. I do remember young people protesting in Spain back in 2006 about how they were never going to be able to afford a flat on their 1000€ a month salaries, and thought be careful what you wish for. Sure enough, post crash, they could afford a place, but they can´t find jobs. Or they have 3-4 mini jobs and don´t make 500€.

Lovely storm pics, but frankly we´re fed up with rain in all it´s variations. I´ve trenched and now should dig fence post holes for the new plot and make the raised beds, but it´s a sea of mud everywhere.

You´ve collected some lovely rocks! We have some large chestnut beams lying about the place that I´d like to use in a pergola or something, but we´ve no idea how to move them without machinery.

Cheers

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Damo,

Thanks and those garden beds are massive. The interesting thing is that I have learned how to replicate them, and so are using those plants and plant communities and replicating them all over the place. It is easy once you learn, but the learning takes a while. Leaf change is a nice time of year except for all of the tourists... They are unrelenting.

I'm told that there are not many mammal species in NZ and so the country is dominated by birds. Don't mention the possums, although it is a very soft fur. Like all pests they are the gift that keeps on giving! Have you seen the Tāne Mahuta yet? It is big and hard to believe, just remember to pay the nice people guarding the car park. Hehe! No, really, I'm serious about that.

About 50/50 from what I can tell, so it was a hard discussion to have and the ages varied too which again brings another set of difficulties. I'll try and get the audio up over the weekend and you can listen for yourself. They're a good bunch of folks, and next time you are up this way you are welcome to join in.

Exactly, there are costs and benefits to your strategy, and who knows, it may just be the right one at this point in time.

Cheers

Chris

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Margaret, Lewis, and Coco,

Thanks for the lovely comments and I promise to reply tomorrow.

Lewis - Daylight savings is almost done for the season here, and I get my hour back that was loaned without my consent. I'm not really one for getting up in the dark as I have had to do of late and am looking forward to getting that lost hour back again. 'Tes not natural! Hehe!!!

Went to the Southern US restaurant tonight and had a delicious Jumbalaya. It had small amounts of barbequed chicken and Andouille sausage. Mostly it is a rice and a sort of spicy gravy dish with a small amount of well cooked meat. It is very nice.

Hey, the next week has maximum temperatures down here exactly the same - every day. Get this 23'C / 73'F. The editor and I are making jokes that the staff at the Bureau of Meteorology have all gone on holidays for Easter and left the work experience kid in charge of the forecasting service! Hehehe! Seriously it is uncanny to see the same forecast temperature reported every single day for a week. The last place I saw that happen was deep into the tropical north of the country where it is the same temperature day in and day out during the dry season. Go figure.

Oh! I just discovered that sultanas which are a form of dried table grape may be toxic to dogs. Not good, I'll make sure they don't get any of those in future. I wouldn't have picked that food.

Is there a difference between a US and an Imperial gallon? I didn't know that either...

Why ever would the artists feel that the past is not important? It all seems a bit strange to me that people would feel that way. I guess that is shocking.

Cheers

Chris

Pam in Virginia said...

Hi, Chris!

I like your title.

I went to a real estate site to look for the price of the house in the Dallas, Texas neighborhood that we owned before this one - the only other house that we have owned, which we lost money on when sold - and the for-sale prices in that neighborhood are running around $4oo,ooo. We paid $67,000 in 1982. Our two sons are living here on the homestead as that is the only way that they can save much money, even though they are frugal sorts, and as a decent one-bedroom apartment costs close to $1,000 per month. They have lived in lots of un-decent ones and had roommates galore and are tired of that - for now, anyway.

Those are fantastic dark and gloomy cloud photos.

I was thinking about our chimney recently. No-one cleaned it out last fall, as is usually done, and that has sort of worried me. We have had fires going all day for months, except for a couple of warm spells. We have a brush like that, too. Our wood is really dry, though, so I am not too worried about creosote. I am glad that your wood heater is holding up so well.

Tomatoes are one of the world's best vegetables; hard to imagine life without them. Have you cooked any eggplant yet? You can bottle jalapenos green or red. I have never seen bottled red ones in a store, but they are actually my favorite. So - how good are the Chilean guavas? My son has started masses of ground cherries. I suspect that they are going to sprawl around and take up a lot of space. I hope we like them.

I love the birds-eye camera shots.

I was just reading about GPS and how not only is there a problem under tree canopy, but that very tall buildings - "urban canyons" - interfere with it. So how is that going to affect the efficiency of driverless cars?

Errol Flynn was from Tasmania? Neat! Robin Hood . . . as it never could have been . . . but - neat!

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Inge:

That is good news about your washer. Beach sand came to my mind, too. We used to visit the beach and then have that problem.

We were forced into having a smart meter. Besides contacting the power company I even contacted a county supervisor who had written against the things, but she turned out to be of no help because when they came to her house with one, she capitulated and said "Oh, well. Just put it in." You see, if you don't accept one here, they cut off your power - until you do get one. Nice deal. That was two years ago and I am still mad. "I finally suggested that he get himself a more ethical job." I was sorely tempted, but I am a coward. You sure made me laugh though!

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Claire:

You are welcome. Spring is late here, by about 2 weeks. The last 3 years it was 2 weeks earlier than "normal".

Pam

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

Masses of rain here, the water table is above the ground now.

Have just broached a bottle of Son's beetroot wine. Don't like it; there is a strange aroma of earth as one brings the glass near ones nose. And oh wow is it alcoholic. Too much really as I don't like the sensation of being affected by alcohol.

In the veg aisle of the supermarket, I wondered what the packets of round white things were. Unbelievably, they were peeled potatoes! I despair.

Inge

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - I forgot to mention, abut the film "Lucky?" More revenge of analog. The producers/writers banged on about how they used film and ancient anmorphic (?) lenses. Different quality to the "look" and more interesting things can be done with focus. Watching some of the DVD extras, I've heard that three or four times, now. Maybe it's something all the cool Hollywood kids are doing now? :-)

We did our daylight savings time jump and wiggle on March 11th. So, you're probably getting the hour we lost. Wonder where they stored it, in the meantime?

When we had steady overnight lows for a week at a time, it was rather odd. I figured maybe something just got stuck at the automated weather station.

Past art is not important. Well, a lot of the manifesto ravings sounded a bit drug or alcohol addled. And, as a form, it seemed mandatory to deliver them with lots of anger and outrage. But, I wonder when it comes right down to it, if it isn't all about money and attention? Interest in and money spent on old stuff takes away interest and money from the new. Never seems to occur to them that, maybe, just maybe, they're not very good. "Good" being an individual value judgement, not to be taken into account. But what do I know?

Off for Chinese food, today, I think. Stuff that a devote of authentic Chinese food would sniff at. But, it will be tasty and there will be a lot of it. We had a Southern/Chinese cafe here, for awhile. It was wonderful while it lasted. Lew

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Margaret,

Oh yeah, the editor and I could have done ten times less work, and earned ten times more during the intervening period of years. But then, we would be ten times less useful! ;-)! We've never purchased a house with the intention that it would somehow increase in value all on its own. Not because we wouldn't have done that, we just didn't think of doing that! I'm being serious too. We always purchased the biggest dump we could find in the nicest area that we could afford and then fixed it up ourselves with the intention of using the amount earned from that activity to reduce our overall indebtedness. We usually did all of the work ourselves too and learned an awful lot in the process not only about construction, but about ourselves too. This farm is no different from the past strategy really, although it does differ in one respect in that we are not considering moving on from here. The land here was so scary, and had no house on it, and no permit to build one, that it had been on the market for over two years and the owner was pretty keen to sell. Rural property with a house on it sells a bit easier, but down here that can be a twelve month process.

I don't know whether the discussion will continue, but who knows? The fuel story is not lost on me, and I hear you, it is one of the driving forces behind making this place massively productive and fertile. Fuel was $1.47 a litre last evening. A gallon is 3.78 litres so that makes it about $5.56 per gallon. The little dirt mouse is out of action at the moment awaiting a new clutch, so the dirt rat uses a bit more fuel and I'm noticing the extra cost.

The storm clouds looked great didn't they? The garden beds are very densely planted and that stops weeds from growing in there and the dense foliage also keeps the ground cool during hot summers and reduces evaporation. They just work here. Did you see the huge fern growing? That is one of my favourite plants and it grows fast in that garden bed. Maintenance is really throwing the cuttings which grow into the path, back into the garden beds, or chucking in a load of manure. Not much work really.

I don't really know how soft wood burns in a wood heater, but if you mix it in with hard woods, you'd sort of think that the higher temperatures from the hard woods may burn any creosote in the flue / chimney? Dunno really. The wood heater here has a sticker on which says: "burn only hardwood". But hardwood is not in short supply here mostly because most of the trees are hardwood. Softwoods are usually exotics like pine.

Thanks for the story about your sister. I shouldn't say that there was humour in the story, but it was sort of funny!

Yeah, you never know what interesting things that you'll find down country roads.

Cheers

Chris

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Lewis,

Well isn't Robin Hood a mixed story? You started me looking into stories of the bloke and way back in the 15th century he appears as a bandit, the righter of wrongs bit seems to have been tacked on later. And then there is the correction of personal and ancient injustice mythos which was tacked on later again. He is a person of a clearly flexible disposition to have covered so many roles! ;-)! And he wouldn't be able to hide out in Sherwood Forest nowadays which appears much diminished from its former 100,000 acres down to its current 450 acres. I read a news article that commercial fishing is soon to be allowed in areas of the Great Barrier Reef that were not previously allowed. Of course, the reports were gushing with the word 'sustainable', although to be honest I am unsure what they mean by that!

A US gallon is 3.78 Litres whilst an imperial gallon is 4.54 litres. I'm totally confused by the difference, but have always used the 3.8 conversion as a rough rule of thumb. There is definitely a story in there regarding the differences. The dirt mouse may want a break, but that desire has lead it to actually be broken. To be fair to the dirt mouse, it did get us home again thus saving the massive towing fee back from the big smoke. Ouch, that bill would have hurt.

Parts are always an option for older vehicles which probably would be dismantled rather than being rebirthed. Ah yeah it was the veteran crime reporter John Silvester who mentioned that chunk of information about manual shift vehicles, and I relayed that to you. Most thieves these days seem to be after the big dollar vehicles. I often wonder how many people are driving around with no insurance. People save costs in strange ways... Mate, I do my absolute best to look down market, and there is no wealth here other than in the plants, and few people know what they are, even looking at them anyway. I reckon it takes about a ten year apprenticeship to get really good at productive edible gardening and I don't see any way around that.

Those houses are beyond my understanding too. The property market down here looks like the biggest and most elaborate ponzi scheme that I have ever heard about. Everything is being chucked under the bus so that house prices continue to rise, and that involves changing the place and taking on even greater long term burdens. It is an ugly business this.

Life expectancy for the average chimney sweep was not good. I have engaged the services of chimney sweeps in the past and on one occasion the bloke had to suck a wasps nest out of the chimney. I was amazed at how clean the job was and I'll bet it wasn't that clean way back in the day. Also didn't they burn coal and charcoal way back then? I remember years ago seeing a mates parents burning briquettes (which were invented by Henry Ford) in their wood heater.

At least you didn't get the brown screen of death whilst your computer was operating a self driving vehicle. Just saying...

I reckon the coins are a good idea and do you reckon anyone feels that there is a sense of achievement in attaining the coins? I won't ask you how did you do it, because I reckon everyone is different in that regard. I am interested though in whether you felt that the earlier coins were easier to obtain than the later ones?

cont...

Fernglade Farm said...

It is funny that you mention that bit about having the coin with you. Early in our relationship the editor used to smoke ciggies, and she hangs onto bottles of water in much the same way that you mentioned the coin. Especially in situations where she used to smoke. That isn't lost on her either. The problem as far as I see it with addiction is that once you are addicted, there can't be a return to social and/or intermittent enjoyment. I guess some people could, but it sure would be difficult. The editor is repulsed by ciggies now days, and I used to know people who would deliberately tempt her to take up the habit again. I wonder about those folks as it seems to be a disreputable act. Have you ever come across anyone trying that trick on you?
Oh yeah, I saw the trailers for the film. Harry Dean Stanton has acted for a very long time, and who can forget the epic cult flick: "Repo Man"? I really enjoyed the sheer silliness of that film, and I noticed that Tarrantino ripped off some of the concepts in his epic and enormously successful film "Pulp Fiction". I will see whether I can get a copy of the film. Mortality is something that films rarely discuss well. Mostly it is a very casual delivery of violence. I reckon Six Feet Under captured the strangeness of mortality.

Ollie ate a wombat poo about an hour ago and now his guts are rank, and the air is thick with pungent dog gut stench! Disgraceful animal.

It is interesting that you mention that aspect about the film "Lucky". Video rarely looks as good as film. I set the camera I use here to take photos at 6 megapixel, although it can record at 12 megapixel. Even so, zooming in produces a blocky and pixelated result. On 35mm photos that I have scanned onto a high quality flat bed colour scanner, mate, the details that can be drawn from the scan of the 35mm photo is beyond amazing.

You can only hope that the folks in the film business are looking backwards so that they can move forwards. The editor always points out posters for new CGI films. Those cartoons must be cheap to make. Incidentally, some nefarious folks have released a piece of software that can smoothly blend another persons face onto an existing video. It is virtually undetectable. We are in unchartered waters here. On the radio discussion of that subject, what most people seem to be using that software for: putting other peoples heads onto porn; and for political disinformation uses. Honestly, have they all nothing better to do with their time?

Your lost hour may have fallen behind the couch. You don't have a couch though from memory, so I reckon it may have fallen behind your desk. I advise you to look for it there! Hehe! I need the sleep, my body is telling me to catch up now that the harvest of all the summer produce is now complete for the season. The extra lost hour is appreciated. :-)!

Over the past few years, some weather patterns have become stuck in place. Not good. And they are usually the weather patterns that you don't want, such as extreme hot or extreme cold.

Anger and outrage is always such a turn off. What do the Klingon's say about revenge: "It is a dish best served cold". Although I suspect that Shakespeare may have originally made that suggestion! Hmm, I going to think about that. There does seem to be a lot of moral outrage at the moment, but it is always directed outwards, and never turned inwardly - which is a healthy approach (for a while at least).

Yum! Chinese food! Yum! I'm quite the fan of noodle dishes and we regularly make Singapore Noodles which is about the best use of turmeric that I can think about.

I must remember to tell you the story of one of the tips in Melbourne as it was interesting.

Cheers

Chris

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Coco,

Thanks for sharing the picture on the ground in Spain. Yup, the whole edifice looks like a giant ponzi scheme to me which is subject to occasional revaluations. It is dire because down here we have a higher valuation to income ratio than the US at the time of the crash of their real estate bubble in 2008. I reckon there is more fuel to add to the fire though, which makes for an unsettling series of thoughts. Every other economic bubble in history has popped sooner or later.

Oook! Mud is not pleasant, and nothing much can grow in mud. Speaking of mud, the recent bushfire down in the south west of this state worked its way into some peat bogs, and they are almost impossible to put out. They now monitor the carbon monoxide emissions and there are evacuations of the area from time to time: Victorian bushfires: Homes evacuated as peat fires continue to burn. Not good.

I once moved a huge timber beam using two pallet hand push trolleys and a mallet at one end to give the whole thing a bit of motivation. It is possible, but not in mud.

Cheers

Chris

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Pam,

Thanks and is a good title and song! Very 1980's Australian punk too.

Yeah, it is not a good story, and the kids will pay the price for the mess that gets left behind too. Hey, I lost money on my first house despite having worked on it for a few years. It was a devastating loss, but you learn and move on, and more importantly live to fight another day. It is a good thing that your sons have that option, and that is too much rent for a one bedroom apartment. The first one bedroom place I moved into during the recession of the early 90's cost $70 per week or $303 per month. And that stretched my budget as I was only paid $1,000 per month and all the other bills came out of that.

'Twas a dark and stormy morning! :-)! Glad you enjoyed the photos.

The heater is working pretty good. You know, I reckon you can tell when the flue is blocking up as the smoke doesn't draw quickly up the flue. Of course, the flue has to be heated a bit in order that it draws properly, but still, if smoke is getting into the room, the thing probably needs to be cleaned. Hey, an old timer once told me that the glass on the front of a wood heater (if it has that) is usually a good sign as to how clean the flue is.

Oh yeah, tomatoes are tasty as! Yum! They are a big crop here and deserve a lot of respect. We may bring in some new seed over winter too, just to give the tomatoes a bit of a genetic boost. Yes, we cook with eggplant as much as we can, and they went into the passata. The main dish we use eggplant for is ratatouille. Sounds like a posh dish, but it ain't! I may include a dodgy photo of the broken up couch on the front verandah one day with the blog title: Hillbilly Heights! ;-)! A local farmer once called up here by that name, and it was said sort of affectionately. Maybe?

Chilean Guavas taste like lemonade, and yeah, they are that good. No bird or animal other than humans seems to want them either. I've got about 30 bushes growing now, but most were in their first summer, so there was little fruit.

Hehe! I enjoyed taking the birds eye photos too. I should probably re-do the map shortly.

gotta run! Will finish tomorrow!

Chris

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Well, Robin Hood is one of those "folk figures" that the common folk enjoy and cheer on, as they appear to be "sticking it to the man." :-). It's a "sticky legend". Hmm. I may have just invented a new folkloric studies word. Probably not. In a way, very much like the King Arthur stories. Adapted, morphed, tightened up here, sprawling there. I read a book about the Robin Hood legend, several years ago, which pushed it even further back than the 15th century. But, it all gets kind of tentative. Direct influence or unrelated tale? The "good" bandit is kind of an archetype. The author of the book even tried to make some connection with the Green Man legends. Which may go back to the Neolithic.

"The Last of Robin Hood" (2013) was pretty good. Kevin Cline, Susan Sarandon and Dakota Fanning. It's about the last four years, or so, of Flynn's life, when he took up with a (very) young lady. He was 50. He thought she was 20. She was 15. She must have been a very mature young lady. She had even worked as a show girl, in Vegas, at 13. Her stage mother (there's another archetype) had provided her with a very good false birth certificate. It all seems to boil down to who knew what and when.

Well, racking up years in The Program is an achievement, but you'r not supposed to make a big deal, out of it. But other people can make a big deal out of it. Is early, easier? Hmmm. Looking back, it seems so. But when you really sit down and think about it, it was quit a slog. Which is why it's good to keep in touch with the Program and people in it. One tends to forget or gloss over the grim details, and it's better (I think) not to forget how grim it all was and what a slog it was.

"Social and/or intermittent use." I won't say, "can't be done", but it seems like putting oneself under a lot of unnecessary stress. And, the wear and tear of repeated withdrawal symptoms. And, the guilt and self flogging. :-). At this point, my friend Scott would say, "Unless your into that sort of thing." :-). And, yes, there are always people out there (and, sometimes you seek them out) who are more than happy to reignite your addictions. Misery loves company? Cont.

LewisLucanBooks said...

Cont. Oh, I think in early Victorian times, people would burn just about anything that would provide a little heat. But I suppose coal yielded more bang for the buck. You mentioned bog fires. Here, in the States, there's a town (curiously enough, also named Centralia) which is largely abandoned, as the coal mines underlying the town caught fire. And, have been smoldering away for years. When I was a kid we passed through the Black Hills of South Dakota and I remember stopping to look at an attraction. Way off in the distance, there was a bit of a smudge. A coal seam had been hit by lightening, hundreds (thousands?) of years ago, and was still merrily smoking away.

You may remember back in 2013 a huge trove of, mostly looted WWII art was discovered in a Munich apartment. I just finished "Hitler's Art Thief" (Ronald, 2015) which is about that. I mention that as there are several casual references in the book to wood fired vehicles being used in Germany toward the end of the war. There's one part where the family is fleeing across Germany in a wood fired vehicle ... hauling a trailer stuffed with furniture, tapestries and art. I didn't realize they had such "pulling" power.

Lunch was quit nice. Got thoroughly stuffed. And, there were three take out containers of left overs to take home. Perfect end to a perfect day? I made my weekly run to Safeway and discovered rum raisin ice cream! Haven't seen that, in years. Haagen-Dazs at $5 a pint! Of course, I got a $1 off coupon for my next purchase, at the register. And, when I check the computer next week, dollars to donuts there will be additional discounts. They like to keep you roped in. Hmmm. Rum raisin ice cream. Wonder if I need to change my sobriety date? :-). Lew

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Pam (cont from yesterday!),

An absolutely smashing good day today here! The weather was really sweet and peaked at about 68’F, but even so the sun had some tooth to it still. I had to put on sunscreen after lunch as the sun felt like it was burning my skin. The UV is still High at the moment, but I note that early next week is the first Moderate UV day. The UV drops rapidly during autumn, and climbs rapidly again during the spring. UV looks to me like a sine wave – whatever that is.

Now that the preserving and harvest is all done for the season, we can get back to infrastructure works. I spent all day using the stump grinder and cleaning up about the place. There is something to be said about the combination of fossil fuels and carbon steel teeth! It is a shame that I have to take the machine back to the farm machine repair shop tomorrow as one of the bolts sheared off one of the two pulleys for the belt drive. If I really had to fix the machine I could, but other tasks are calling for my attention - notably the corn terrace and fixing up the drainage on the driveway. The drainage on the driveway has failed every single year and that just annoys the stuffing out of me. I've learned that you can change the direction of water, but only up to about 90 degrees, anymore than that and it is disaster central and a complete failure.

Driver-less cars are a means for the investor class to enjoy a new stream of funds. Like electric cars, I reckon they sound good in theory, but the weight of the batteries is a considerable hurdle to surmount – not even mentioning the expense which our society is not set up to absorb. The upper limits of rare Earth metals, is also a not insurmountable problem. And even then, where is the electricity going to come from, given that people are hell bent on not increasing the generation capabilities of the electricity grid because of the cost all the while increasing the population. Folks don't seem to have thought this one through much! After reading the ‘World Made by Hand’ series of books and now Conrad Richter’s Awakening land trilogy, I feel that I’m starting to sound like some sort of woodsy type! Oh well!

Hehe! You know, I've never watched that film and perhaps I should remedy that lack! :-)!

Cheers

Chris

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Inge,

Has the high water table affected any of your spring plant starts? I honestly wonder how your forest tolerates such a high water table, but I guess it drops after a while as summer approaches and then the well established trees all enjoy a good drink of water? Maybe that is how it works, but I sort of imagine that is how it works? Over the next week or so, I'll collect a huge amount of acorns from assorted oak tree species growing in the area and I'll throw them all randomly about the farm. Oak trees do really well here and in the more fashionable end of the mountain range, I noticed yesterday that the hordes of leaf change tourists seem to have made their annual special guest appearance. It would be nice if they chose to see the exotic trees like the oaks in their summer glory providing beautiful and very deep cooling shade, but no, they appear to want to see them in the prelude to their annual sleep cycle. It appears to be a cultural thing for Asian cultures and I don’t get it at all.

Fair enough about the wine, although I have never smelled that from beetroot wine. It is really a sugar wine which has a very mild flavour (and almost no smell). We don't use preservatives with the wines and that carries a very tiny risk that the wines get converted by Acetobacterium into vinegar if the right temperature conditions are met, but the preservatives are a form of poison and some of the European ones are very sulphur heavy which you can smell, but not taste. And I don't enjoy that experience at all.

Peeled potatoes! Oh no, tell me it is not true...

Cheers

Chris

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Lewis,

Yeah, we had our 'Robin Hood' story with the bushranger Ned Kelly, although we have actual photos of the guy who was eventually hanged (or is it hung? Dunno). In time he may disappear into mythos like Robin Hood as he seems to be well on his way there. Unlike Robin Hood, Ned had an actual manifesto detailing his accounts of the events. From my reading in between the lines, Ned felt like a victim which may have arisen from being of Irish Catholic descent which was not socially advantageous in those days, and then getting caught up with the wrong folks, and then facing heavy handed police and judiciary. In effect blame can be allocated to all parties. What interested me was that Ned hid out in the bush for several years and had a well established network of sympathisers and supporters, so in effect he played out the Robin Hood mythos. Of course history does repeat and some characters arise as a response to events.

By the way, "sticky legend" is a great way to talk about this stuff. The interesting thing is that the legend becomes bigger after the death of the individual, who of course may have many unpleasant characteristics which they are completely unable to prevent from being redefined once they are in their bury hole (as I recently read that final resting place so charmingly described).

I can well understand the Green Man and the woodwose because the forests are one of the few places that offer sanctuary and offer a bit of space.

You know when I was young I used to hear people remark that something was: 'In like Flynn', and of course I had no idea what they were talking about, but it wasn't necessarily a negative remark. He appeared to have a certain knack for seducing women, who appeared to go to him willingly, and well such skills can generate a lot of jealousy. Of course such folks tend to overstep the mark, so to speak, and that is inevitably their undoing. Flynn appears to have fallen into that trap. As a casual observation it appears to me to be less sordid than people who use power to coerce women into their beds who otherwise probably wouldn't go there, but that is merely a moral distinction of my own making. To be brutally honest, I feel that neither situation forms the remotest corners of either of our lives! ;-)!

My, but we cover some serious ground here!

Thanks for sharing your story. Dark days my friend, dark days. I hope you are not upset by this, but your mentioning that it was a slog fascinates me, if only because I feel that you have earned your stripes by undergoing the process - so to speak.

You mate Scott is quite wise to put it that way. Don't laugh, but some people want that gear, although why is completely beyond me. Well, that sort of reflects what the editor found with ciggies after having given them up cold turkey style - it was a very tense time. If memory serves me correctly, I recall that by about the ten year stage she became completely repulsed by the things. Now interestingly enough, I do note that it is often the ex-smokers - and I have no understanding of alcohol from this perspective and would be interested in your thoughts on the matter - who are some of the most outspoken. Down here there are very tough anti smoking laws. On the other hand the program appears to get people to reflect upon others and that may curtail some of that calling out of others.

cont...

Fernglade Farm said...

I don't really know, but I have always thought that other people attempting to re-ignite former addictions, well it is more about them than you, so there is something in that 'misery loves company' saying. What do you reckon about that? I used to have a mate who smoked and he used to loudly proclaim that he could give them up anytime he wanted, and so I always called him out on such foolishness and said: 'OK. So give up now'. Never did, and the claim just annoyed me because of its apparent falsehood. Interestingly enough, I came across a person the other week who has a serious problem with what could be politely termed, 'the truth'. I avoid that person like the plague, but see no upside in calling them out. Did I ever mention the story of the housemate that stole my identity a long time ago and he lost his license but told the police that he was me. Things were not looking good for me. I was rancid angry and had to go to the police to sort the ugly business out. Strangely enough there were a few people who were quite outspoken about me having done the wrong thing in that instance to clear my name and I avoided those people from that point onwards.

Oh wow! That Centralia coal mine fire is something else! Wow. What a series of disasters, from start to finish, and one can only think that the miners dug too deeply and may have uncovered a Balrog. A coal mine (open cut) caught fire down this way about four years back and that was attached to the power plant that was shut down recently. Here is an article and you can see how close the fire got to the power plant: Hazelwood mine fire: Looking back at the blaze that threatened Morwell. Not good. I'm amazed that the fire was put out. That day almost took out the forest in this mountain range too, and the fire was only just stopped from getting into the forest. I knew people who were pretty affected by that fire.

Yeah, I'd heard of the wood gasifier vehicles, but have absolutely no idea how they operate. There is a wikipedia page on them: Wood gas. When I was living in the inner Melbourne suburbs, there used to be a syngas (or town gas) facility and there were even railroads leading into it. Of course it had all been pulled down by then, and the steam locomotive was eventually relocated, and the place converted into a park, but there were cast iron gas lamp posts still kicking around the suburb, so the whole thing must have been very extensive. I believe they used coal in those days to produce the town gas.

Lucky you, and enjoy your left overs. Occasionally we must stuff ourselves full up to our eyeballs! Hehe! Rum and raisin ice cream is a favourite, but I hardly believe that there is even the remotest drop of rum in that gear. :-)!

I was at the operational end of the stump grinder today and spent the entire day wandering around and cleaning up long deceased tree stumps. I quite enjoy the work, but very occasionally I would encounter a very angry nest of ants. Wow, did I annoy them or what? Anyway, the saw dust that I created in the process will go towards increasing the fertility of the soil, and I also chucked in huge quantities of coffee grounds and coffee bean husks onto the saw dust. Tomorrow I plan to bring in a good load of manure to spread through the orchard.

Cheers

Chris

margfh said...

Hi Chris,

I've certainly drifted away from friends and it's usually been when I no longer worked with them. I had two great friends when I was teaching, one moved on to another position quite a distance from here and the other retired to Florida. Our jobs were what we most had in common so I suppose it's understandable but still sad. My mother used to say a person generally has very few read friends in life.

Your comment about your friend inviting you to his 50th made me think of the popular trend of destination weddings. My youngest daughter keeps saying she would like this if she ever gets married and I've voiced my disapproval of that idea. She even has a friend who recently got divorced but has a new fiance and they plan to get married in Italy and has stated that if my daughter values their friendship she needs to attend. By the way the same daughter has just returned from a long trip to the Philippines. While in a layover in Seoul she was bitten by a meerkat at a cafe that features baby meerkats, raccoons and even a kangaroo running loose in the place. She was concerned about rabies so went to the ER yesterday where the doctor did some quick research and said he didn't think she needed to go through the series of shots. She was the talk of the ER apparently.

You are fortunate not to have much mud. With all the farm fields around us mud is a way of life as is cleaning muddy dogs.

Hope the Dirt Mouse is back in service. I preferred a vehicle with a clutch rather than automatic unless I was stopped at a traffic light on a steep hill. I haven't had one for awhile but I think it would be like riding a bike and I could pick up the skill pretty quickly.

Like Pam and Claire we are experiencing much colder than normal temperatures so nothing is green yet. Next week there will be days that will be 20 degrees below normal.

Margaret

margfh said...

@Pam

Have you noticed any difference now that you have a smart meter? They are being installed now in town but I don't know how long it'll take before they get out here.

It sounds like things are working out OK with your sons living on the homestead. I've often wondered how it would work for us if we can't sell this place (still no lookers). My youngest daughter loved the animals here. In fact when she was in the Philippines they stayed at a farm with goats and was offered a job there. She's quite fed up with her job right now and her field in general as is her boyfriend.

Margaret

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi everyone!

The audio file for the recent lively discussion by the Green Wizards on money and property is no available for your pleasure. Enjoy!

Green Wizards recent discussion regarding Money and Property.

Cheers

Chris

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

Raining heavily here. The rain is a nuisance but it is the cold that is preventing all planting. This is going to be a short growing season unless it extends at the other end. Rain not so serious as most of my planting is in containers and the greenhouses. I have flagstones on the ground in the greenhouses and they are going squish when I tread on them. Once the trees come to life again (but that is late) their drinking does make a difference.

Son does not use preservatives in his wine. The only thing that he can think of that is different is that he used giant beetroots; previous wine has been made with small ones.

et al:- It is not yet legally required for us to have smart meters here but it will come. They also try very hard to make us have water meters but can't when people have interlinked systems.

Inge

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Before I forget, a couple a three books that might interest you.

"Crop Rotation and Cover Cropping: Soil Resiliency and Health on the Organic Farm" (Kroeck, 2011). Haven't seen it and probably won't as it really doesn't apply to my small patch. You, however ...

"Restoring Heritage Grains" (Rogosa, 2016). Looks pretty interesting and useful.

"The New Bread Basket" (Halloran, 2015). Maybe not quit as useful, but plenty interesting, in it.

Re" Ciggies. Yeah, I think misery loves company is spot on. But, there's also the familiarity with being desperate for a smoke. LOL, my Dad quit smoking and always said, "Well, I just put them down." I'd call bull puckey on him. "Yeah, sure. Ten days in intensive care and a heart bypass, and you put them down." :-). We all want to be heros in our own minds. Ten years on he'd still reach for his pocket, if in a stressful situation.

The Hazelwood Mine Fire was something else. That night photo was quit supernatural looking. Fires of hell? We had an open pit mine next to a power plant, here. The power plant is still chugging along, but they closed the mine a few years back. 300+ people thrown out of work ... a few weeks before Christmas. Hit the town, hard. I wonder what happened to all those people.

Pre-peeled potatoes aren't the half of it. Here, we have bags of "baby" carrots. They actually aren't immature carrots ... they're full sized carrots that have been lathed down in machinery into little bite sized chunks. Lew

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Inge,

I get spring weather like that too and it sure does makes for a short growing season, although by early October (your April) not too much is going on in the garden down here anyway and my mind turns to mowing the vast expanses of paddock which the wildlife can't keep up with. Still, I do hope that your growing season doesn't get too short, which is a possibility, but I rather feel that your autumn will be longer and warmer with a rapid turn into winter. That is sort of what I am experiencing here.

In the tropics it rains and rains, but the heat and sun dries things out quickly. It is a cycle of gardening which I don't understand at all. That cycle of lots of rain does not play out so well in temperate parts of the world. I once experienced ten inches of rain in five days and I have never seen so much water before.

Of course, larger beetroot tastes a bit earthy to me too. Interestingly the sugar beets which grew prolifically here and were quite tasty roasted, well they also had an earthy taste to them. Silver beet or chard as it is sometimes called grows really easily here during the winter, but the editor doesn't like the taste of the leaves because they too have an earthy aftertaste. We've spent an inordinate amount of time over the years working out how to grow what we like to eat. I spotted a new location the other day for a few more steel round raised potato beds.

The story of this place takes time to unfold. I wonder if the people that built your place understood how time would play out around the house? It is sort of eerie to think about how the places that we live in now will appear in a century or two's time.

The smart meter discussion is something that I have largely overlooked. On the other hand, I saw a house with an old school meter in the inner city and a long legal looking note attached to the front of the house (which confused me) that more or less advising the installers of the smart meters not to install one at that address. As far as I am aware, down here there is no legal requirement to attach a dwelling to the electricity grid and that is always an option. Without digging too far into the smart meter story, the main benefit for the electricity suppliers appears to me that they can shut you off remotely in order to balance their supply and demand.

The off grid solar power system has to manage that task at every moment during the daylight hours and I can assure you that it is not a simple task for the system.

In blocks of apartments down here they have multiple water meters for interlinked systems.

The real story behind all of this is that there are ever more people whilst the output from the existing infrastructure is finite. It is a sad story.

Cheers

Chris

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Lewis,

You have indeed been busy with your reading! And you have officially earned the Fernglade Farm inaugural award for bad influence! An auspicious win for you, because two of those three books are now on their way here to this little remote corner of the planet. I am curious about the rise of gluten intolerance, because I purchase the highest quality flour that I can get my hands on, and even still the bread that I bake from it makes me feel mildly sleepy. There is something in that story and I plan to get my head around grains for flour and already have a few ideas. The drought tolerant varieties story really struck home hard because I read an article a long time ago decrying that down under we had spent a huge amount of effort over many decades breeding up drought tolerant varieties of wheat only to move on to newer varieties offered by the seed sellers. Oh well, as Tolkien wrote, it is the job that's not started that takes the longest to finish. First, the corn terrace, and then I'll plant out heritage open pollinated grains for flour. We are hitting the limits of the steel that we have to hand, but are thinking about how to better utilise what we have. It is a complex problem.

Yeah, that would do it for sure - for some. Other people act differently. One of the members of Federal Parliament received a liver transplant and they continue to enjoy wine, but apparently in moderation... Such a circumstance is like dining with the devil and you never know what unexpected circumstances may pop up. Exactly too about the behavioural aspects of addiction. The editor gets slightly stressed if she does not have a bottle of water easily to hand during driving, and that was because she used to enjoy driving and smoking. Clearly the two go hand in hand in her mind, and they probably always will. I've never smoked, but I have had friends who reached for a ciggie whenever they feel socially awkward. What do you do?

Hey, don't you reckon the whole 'heroes in their own mind' thing plays out with the apocalypse crowd? As an interesting side story, I saw a bloke in the city a few weeks back wearing a t-shirt that proclaimed: "zombie food"! An accurate assessment of the facts, as far as I could tell.

I'd never looked at the photos before of that open cut mine fire, but yeah, it was as if a Balrog had run feral and caused some serious damage to the mine. I often wonder whether that event had anything to do with the shut down of the generator. Mind you, I was explaining to the Green Wizards the other week that one of those plants eats about six sports fields of coal every single day and sooner or later at that rate the coal is going to be too economically far from the generator. Oh well.

Oh yeah, those towns in the Latrobe Valley which contained at some point in time an unfeasible amount of brown coal are apparently some of the most economically depressed areas of the state. Yet, when I was a kid, those generators used to employ huge numbers of apprentices and employees. Out of curiosity, whatever fuel is being fed into your power plant if the mine was shut down? Electricity generators don't appear to be breatharians to me! Hehe! Bad Chris....

cont...

Fernglade Farm said...

In a really strange side story, the underbelly of that economically depressed area was briefly exposed to the nation a few years ago after the apparent: Murder of Jaidyn Leskie. The inquest and investigation appeared to unearth one bit of strangeness after another.

Oh yeah, the editor has been coincidentally telling me about baby carrots which are something that I have never seen. All of the carrots that I grow here look weird and would be tossed aside by the big supermarket chains. Occasionally one does grow to look like what people are trained to understand that carrots look like. I'm not sure whether this baby carrot food product is a good thing, or a bad thing, or just a thing. . The Origin and Evolution of Baby Carrots. Fascinating.

Spent a few hours today hacking away vegetation from the garden beds that had overgrown the paths. I had to keep a sharp eye on the lookout for triffids hiding in among the garden beds. You never know! And we began the slow process of correcting the set of concrete stairs that leads down to the tomato enclosure. Correcting ones mistakes is a salutary lesson in humility!

Cheers

Chris

Pam in Virginia said...

Chris:

I dug a new potato bed yesterday on the frontier side of the garden, where not much as been developed. There was a spot next to a big old stump (no stump grinder here - more's the pity!) that turned out to have the most marvelous soil. The rest of the tree must have just rotted away to one side of it; there is way more topsoil than is usual here. But the rocks and roots! There are living trees fairly close by and I had to prune and saw away their roots. And so many rocks; there were two baby boulders. And it is on a slope, of course! I built a log and dry-stone retaining wall for now. Anyway, the potatoes are planted and if they are not happy, I'll know the reason why - hope springs eternal.

I asked you about plant labels a few weeks back as the "indelible" ink (I've tried quite a few different pens) that I use to write on the plastic ones I buy sometimes wears off before the season is over. I had made up a bunch of little "signs" before the season started to mark what was going to be planted in which beds, or at least to give my son and I some frivolity in arguing about what goes where. It is not unheard of that one of us moves the signs around whilst the other is busy elsewhere. Take that, you bean bed! You are now to be cucumbers! These signs are still completely legible after 3 months. They consist of a square of white cardboard taped with duct tape onto a stick, using the same old indelible ink. Not waterproofed, and a lot of rain and some snow has hit them. So, I think I'll save some money and do these for labels this year. They can be illustrated, too . . .

Thanks to you and Lew for the baby carrots info. I love those things, but I am feeling dubious about them, mostly because of the nutritional concerns. I hope our carrots finally do well this year. We are trying so hard!

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Lew:

Thanks for the baby carrot info. I knew they were not really babies, but nothing else.

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Margaret:

I have not noticed any difference since we got the smart meter. I am - probably unduly - suspicious when we have power outages, though I have no excuse to be as we have always had a lot of power outages. I didn't want one because they can now tell what every electrical thing we use is, and when we use it, and shut off the electricity when they want. It is their company, though, so I guess that's their prerogative since we choose to be their customers. My main worry about them setting us up with a smart meter was that I had read many stories of the things catching on fire and then setting whole houses on fire. Supposedly, that is the installer's fault and, interestingly, they contract out the installation.

I hope that your daughter figures out something to do. It is quite a dilemma. At least you've had experience with other adults living in your home, if that should arise, what with your brothers having lived there. Though that might make it a little harder, since you have had privacy since then. Ah - buy a tiny house - no room! Naughty me - I don't mean it.

Pam

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Always happy to be a bad influence when it comes to books :-). I've always suspected that current wheat varieties and milling procedures contribute to gluten sensitivity.

When I'm stressed I chew nicotine gum. Sugarless. A low stress way of keeping me away from the ciggies.

Re: Zombie food and being a hero in one's own mind. Sometimes, I think some of the stories from "Into the Ruins" spring from that source. I'm currently watching Season Three of "Fear the Walking Dead." Kind of a spin off from "Walking Dead." What I've noticed about those two series is, that after awhile, the zombies kind of just become lethal background noise, and it's more about the human interactions. I gave up on "Walking Dead" about season five (got to brutal, for me) and "Fear the Walking Dead" may have jumped the shark. I find myself fast forwarding through ever larger swaths. Next up on our dystopian viewing agenda is "Handmaid's Tale", season one.

They closed the coal mine due to labor costs and ever increasing environmental pressures. Now it comes in in endless trains of box cars from Wyoming. The fly ash from burning the coal was hauled a short ways down the road to a cement plant. Cont.

LewisLucanBooks said...

Cont. Here, it was the Ramsey murder.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Death_of_JonBen%C3%A9t_Ramsey

To this day, anytime the gutter press has a slow news day, they trot out some "new" evidence or spin another (ever more) far fetched theory. Aliens? Speaking of which, we seem to be having an uptick of UFO sightings in the Western U.S..

I tried a few bags of "baby" carrots, years ago. I think I've mentioned that I like the idea of carrots, but, not so much eating them. So, I thought if I kept bags around, I'd eat more. Well, no. But I did notice that they'd soon develop a kind of slimy feel to them. It really took a bit of scrubbing and a lot of hot water to get it off. Which kind of defeats the whole "convenience" angle.

Well, I'm off to the auction. My friend Julia is interested in a couple of items of furniture, so I'm walking her through the whole absentee bid routine. I may leave a few absentee bids, myself. As I really don't feel like sitting through the whole process for an item or two. We'll see. Full report, tomorrow. :-). Which is Easter. My, that crept up on me. Lew

LewisLucanBooks said...

PS: I knew there was something else ... Cliff Mass seems to think that the La Nina is ending, and by winter we'll either be into a La Nada (neutral) or a weak El Nino. Our spring seems to be a bit dry-ish, compared to usual years. Lew

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

Of course the point of smart meters is the ability to cut someone off instantly.

Apartments are no problem where water meters are concerned. But, come now, use anarchic, imaginative abilities when it comes to rural areas hehe1

I can't draw diagrams of pipework here but one is not considering an area where each dwellings pipe comes straight off the mains water pipe on the road. A pipe will wind over private land with assorted standpipes from which it will continue through to another private property and so on with more standpipes etc. Great fun and guaranteed to cause the water board to throw up their hands in despair.

They have just upped the standing charge to a property here after they were called out to deal with a problem. Old time rurals would never dream of calling them out.

Inge

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Margaret,

Apologies, I accidentally missed your comment yesterday. Oops!

Work friends are tough to maintain if you should ever move jobs. I found that out the hard way with my first job. Work was different back then too, and the work group thought nothing of going to the pub at lunchtime on a Friday, and then heading back there after work. Occasionally Friday afternoons were a messy experience! It was the expected thing and all very social. I got to see only a few years of that dying culture, and then the recession hit in the early 90's and I was made redundant. Sad face emoticon! All of the work people I used to socialise with after work suddenly disappeared from my life as they too were spread to the winds, and then not only did I have to scramble to get another job, but I had a big hole in my life where work mates once filled. With the next job - debt collection - I noticed that a pervasive and subtle sense of fear had crept into the workplace, and social activities were just non-existent. I kept my head down and worked.

Glad to hear that your daughter didn't require rabies shots from the meerkat bite. That would have been stressful for both her and you, and the window to get the shots is pretty small. Wow.

What do you do? I've never asked anybody to travel to a destination birthday, wedding, or other event, and I reckon the golden rule of: 'do unto others'; applies to this situation. It can get pretty feral from what I see of other people doing just that and I always hope that I'm not involved as people can get pretty grumpy about a polite but firm 'no'. I've got a plan to do something for my mate, but it doesn't involve four hour one way plane flights. No doubts, he'll never talk to me again...

I re-blocked a house (replaced the timber stumps/footings with concrete stumps) once from under the timber floor and that involved crawling around a lot underneath the house during winter and I reckon I've seen enough mud for one life, so I make sure mud is never seen here! :-)! The mud difference may also have something to do with the warmer (but still cold) winter weather here relative to where you are because some plants continue to grow during that time? Dunno.

Once you've learned how to drive a manual you never forget. Handbrake starts are good for hills! Hey, I have never owned a vehicle with an automatic gearbox, although the majority of cars down here have them fitted. They feel weird to me because there is no engine braking when I take my foot off the throttle and that takes a bit of getting used to.

Far out that is cold as! I won't mention how nice the weather has been here over the past week or so. Every day it is about 70'F, sometimes a bit more, and sometimes less. It is really nice. Oops – broke my own rule! Winter is coming though.

I dropped a cubic metre (1.3 cubic yards) of mushroom compost into part of the orchard today. The fruit trees could use a feed as the deciduous trees are beginning to turn. The trees continue to grow over winter, although they only put wood on and the buds don’t really swell much until spring. The leaf change tourists have been feral in the more fashionable end of the mountain range.

Cheers

Chris

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Pam,

My feelings for the stump grinder machine are not natural. It is such a good machine and the carbon steel teeth are the only thing that will easily cut through the old tree stumps (chainsaw aside). Honestly, the tree stumps show burn marks from the Ash Wednesday fires which occurred back in 1983. A lesser person would despair, I on the other hand purchased an 18hp stump grinder. Alas, sadly the poor machine is now undergoing repairs because a dodgy bolt holding one of the belt drive pulleys sheared off. I suspect the manufacturers saved a few cents and used a non-high tensile bolt. Woe is all of us, because we never really know what corners were cut in the manufacturing processes of any machines, until we discover them for ourselves! ;-)!

Tree stumps can provide lovely soil building materials once all the tiny little soil critters get their sharp and pointy teeth around the tasty cellulose. Keep a close watch out for your fingers! You've discovered something interesting that I see here too. Yup, I notice that many of the tree roots wrap themselves around rocks. I don't really know, but I have a suspicion that somehow the tree and the soil critters are consuming the rock bit by bit and extracting out all of the different minerals that may be held in that rock. Dunno, really, but I see rocks at the base of many trees and tree roots here, and they occur more often there than in the surrounding forests. It is interesting to find that isn't it?

Out of curiosity, how long do your logs last in your log and dry-stone retaining wall? As the soil life gets more active, I've noticed that cut logs are being consumed faster by the soil life.

Thanks for sharing your experience with the plant labels. Interesting and I'll have a think about that use. I tend to use aluminium tags because the summer suns extreme UV bleaches most pens.

Hey, Ollie is in the bad books today. We poured a new concrete step, and just for fun he left a lot of footprints on it. The editor was very grumpy with Ollie, but fortunately we were able to fix the step and removed the paw prints. Ollie was grounded and kept inside the house - and the weather was so nice. He is too young to realise that winter is coming.

Best of luck with the carrots, and I would appreciate hearing about your experience growing that plant. I let some go to seed a few years ago and now they turn up everywhere, but they are not nice supermarket style carrots. They taste OK, but they look feral.

Cheers

Chris

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Lewis,

I reckon you are spot on about the current wheat varieties and milling procedures contributing to gluten sensitivity and I feel much the same. The experiment to resolve this matter may take a decade or so to unravel, but I'll get there eventually, I reckon. It is a pleasure being in your intellectual company and being so badly influenced to think about such things as the strains of wheat that we are growing! And books are good!

Fair enough about the gum, and as I mentioned, the editor keeps a bottle of water ready to hand for such circumstances and I reckon for much the same reasons. Don't you reckon our brains are geared towards patterns?

It really is hard to know what the average zombie is geared for other than eating brains. You'd sort of think that after a while zombies would run out of brains to consume? Dunno, be we could run campaigns to: "Save our Zombies, donate a brain today!" I've never seen either the Walking Dead, which has quite the cult following by all accounts, or the spin off show. The editor loved the "Handmaid's Tale" although I didn't watch that either, and I'll be curious to learn you opinion of the show. The story line sounded very dystopian to me and appeared to grab some of the worst elements of our current culture and then make them worsterer (I just made that word up!)

Oh yeah, it would take a huge amount of box cars carrying coal to keep a coal fired generator running. Wyoming is an interesting and rugged place and a climate of extremes. Is Devils Tower the location of the film: Close encounters of the third kind? I may have mentioned previously that I thought the film makers went a bit feral with a Moog in that film! The ending was quite a disappointment.

Even down here at the bottom of the planet, we heard about that case. I feel sorry for the kid and the parents appeared to be driving that kid hard. Years ago I heard a film review for the final 'Twilight' franchise film, and I've never watched films or read the book, but the reviewer was so horrified by the unnatural aspect of the baby in the film - which was apparently like something out of Rosemary's Baby (a scary book that one) - that the reviewer jokingly made a very ungentlemanly suggestion. I have no idea why people would arrange for a ransom and then murder their meal ticket. It just makes no sense to me. The note also itself appears too long to my eyes. Mind you, the kid looked like hard work. No doubt, Aliens had something to do with the entire affair. Good to hear that the UFO spotters are being kept busy with new sightings. They’ve been quiet of late.

cont...

Fernglade Farm said...

Yeah, I have noticed that some carrots develop a slimy fungus which to be brutally honest looks an awful lot like a form of blight to me. But with no skins to protect the vegetable, well not much stands in the way of a good feed and an active fungus. I see that MacDonalds has promised to: start cutting antibiotic use in chickens in fight against superbugs. Nowadays I avoid commercial chicken breeds because they are very strange birds and from my experience they have short lives and mental health issues - two of them have become psychotic and they never experienced a caged existence. I'm always amazed at how cheaply we give away such huge gains like anti-biotics.

How did the auction end up? Did Julia win her items on an absentee bid?

Far out, today was another day of full on work. I spread a cubic metre (1.3 cubic yards) of mushroom compost in the orchard around some of the fruit trees. I'm trying to get into feeding the soil a bit earlier this year. And in the afternoon, I installed a second yagi antenna for the internet and then slowly pointed it in the direction of the tower. Yagi antennas have only a 12 degree or so of focus so more or less pointing it at the mobile phone tower tends to produce good results. It was a lot of work and I had to fit and test various FME plugs to the coaxial cable too. And then slowly test the entire setup.

Fortunately the morning began with a coffee and a hot cross bun! Yummo for fruit buns!

Did you get any chocolate for Easter? We don't do chocolate, but hot cross buns are very tasty - but not the el-cheapo ones. They're not much good, but other people feel differently.

Cheers

Chris

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Inge,

Yeah, that seems to be the main advantage for the power companies. Although I believe the meter can be read remotely over the network too. During summer brown outs down here, I believe areas are cut off and I often wonder as to the socio-economic profiling the power companies must do during that process. I'm not connected to the electricity grid, but am not entirely self sufficient either (and few if any people actually are), so if businesses around me get cut off, well, the implications aren't lost on me either.

Ah of course, I forget that your water system evolved over time and in response to the builds going on in your area. Maps are a good thing in such circumstances, but in rural areas that can be pretty complex. I can see that, and thanks for the correction. I hear you and try to keep the water systems here as simple and easy to follow as I can - even then it is extraordinarily complex, but getting simpler as I adapt what I've learned. Over the next year I'll abandon some of the underground pipes because they were a bad idea here for all sorts of reasons.

Exactly too. If you invite them in, you bring yourself to their attention.

Has it warmed up yet, or is it still raining there? The leaves are changing and falling now here, and the leaf change tourists are descending upon the more fashionable end of the mountain range. We went out for a hot cross bun and a coffee this morning and it was feral already. At least I got my lost hour of sleep back as daylight savings has finished for the season.

Cheers

Chris

Pam in Virginia said...

Chris:

The logs in my retaining wall are only intended to be temporary. I set them up before the stone, after the bed has already been dug, to hold the dirt back while I build up the dry stone wall. I do leave them in place when finished, but they will probably be rotted out by next spring, especially as I use light, partly-decayed logs since they are easiest for me to move. And guess what? When I went out yesterday to look at the potatoes I had planted something had dug up a whole row! Nothing was eaten, but the potatoes were lying all about. I have replanted. Hmmm.

Yesterday my son, with my husband's help, cut a 12-foot long (3.6m) chestnut oak log into a beam with a chainsaw. Each side ended up being 8 inches (20cm). It is really well squared off on all sides. Chestnut oak is an oak with leaves that look like a chestnut. It has huge acorns, too.

We have those footprints here, too, just the odd one here and there, not a whole, massive stepfull. I like to try and remember who they belonged to.

With carrots, all I care about is taste.

You and Lewis have gotten me thinking: Could it be just the wheat that I am sensitive to? Maybe I can eat rye bread? I used to make an all-rye loaf loaf; it was really dense.

Oh, yeah - Easter hot cross buns!

Pam

margfh said...

@Pam

Yes, I have similar concerns about smart meters. I thought they might charge different rates depending on the time of day too.

Doug and I have often said we have to move to a smaller place before anyone moves in with us and are only half joking.

Margaret

margfh said...

Hi Chris,

No worries. I'm pretty amazed (and most appreciative) that you keep up with all of us.

Hoping to listen to all of your podcast but may have to do it in bits and pieces. One of Doug's brothers has just informed us that he and his wife are in dire financial straits with two mortgages, college loans for both of their kids, credit card debt and no saving left. They have had some issues with jobs a couple of times but we still can't figure our how they got into this situation.

We had our family Easter yesterday at one of my sister's house. It was quite pleasant with lots of yummy food. My daughter and her boyfriend brought a slide show from their trip to the Philippines and included was a picture of a meerkat but I don't think it was the biter.

Winter has returned for now and the next ten days with several chances of snow and temperatures in the teens on some nights. Sounds like your weather is ideal. We have to enjoy days like that when we can.

By the way, after reading about "The Awakening Land" here I was able to get a copy from inter-library loan and am very much enjoying it.

Margaret

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Read somewhere, yesterday. "A muffin is a bald cupcake." Glad that's settled. I can sleep again.

I saw an interview with Margaret Atwood, the author of "Handmaid's Tale." She said nothing in the book hadn't taken place,either now, or in the past. She just dumped it all into a ripping good tale. I read it too many years ago to remember much detail.

"Worsterer" seems like a fine word. Soon to make a major appearance in a dictionary, near you! Will you get credit? Residuals?

Yup. Devil's Tower is in Wyoming. You may remember in "Paul", when they're taking the little alien to the pick up site, it turns out to be Devil's Tower. I think Simon Pegg's character says something like, "Well, that figures." I quit liked the Moog. And, the ending. Well, what a terrible world it would be if we all liked the same things. Competition would be fierce!

I watched the first "Twilight" film, just to see what the fuss was about. And, it was filmed in Forks, Washington. Up on our Olympic Peninsula. The author had never been there. Just picked out the gloomiest weather spot in the US. She figured vampires would quit like it. As if Bigfoot wasn't enough. Bigfoot vampires? It was a dying lumber town, and the books an movies really provided an economic shot in the arm. I don't know what it is about Forks. I can think of at least two other novels that are set, there. Cont.

LewisLucanBooks said...

Cont. I won all three items that I left absentee bids on! So, I got 1.) Unusual for me .. a green satin glass vase with exotic birds painted on it. Art deco. Tiffin glass company, 1920s. 2.) The blue and white glass mystery vase. I later found one in green and white, online, identified as, also, Tiffin. 1950s. But, one swallow does not a summer make, so, I need more info. There are many books on that company, but our library carries none. Interlibrary loans are in order. 3,) a mixed box of plates. Booo. And all I wanted was the one plate, blue and white stoneware with an aesthetic art movement pattern.

There was a picture online of a large set of dinnerware that I was very curious about. Wide blue/gray bands of vegetation broken up by rabbits. When I took a look at the preview, much to my surprise it was Haviland china, French. Haviland usually runs to Victorian floral patterns. Ouch! I really wanted it. But good sense, prevailed (no fun at all.) I mean really, a second set of dinnerware? Why? Still, it will stick in memory for quit awhile. Hmmm. Maybe I'd be happy with a single piece to hang on the wall? Worth a look at E-Bay.

On the way to the auction I spotted three, cast iron dancing women. Japanese. Probably a spring or harvest festival. There's more to the story, but I've banged on long enough about my tat.

I don't know if Julia won her piece of furniture. After I finish here, I'm heading to The Club for a cuppa. She works the counter on Sunday mornings. I'll find out if she had any joy.

I may have had hot cross buns, years ago. But, as they were commercial, they do not stick in memory. I saw an article, yesterday, that for one to be au currant and not have one's Social Justice Warrior credentials revoked, if you make hot cross buns you should frost some with "?" on the top, for the atheists in the crowd. And, also some unfrosted one's for the "none of the above" crowd. Wouldn't want to start a religious war over the serving table.

No chocolate, here. Other than the two small squares of the dark stuff I eat daily. Purely for health reasons, of course! :-). May your bunny basket be overflowing. Lew